Parliamentary Foreign Policy: an Example of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Members of parliament have more freedom in their positions than governments, therefore the best way for pursuing value-based foreign policy is through the parliamentary assemblies of large international organisations.
This also applies to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. At the same time the author remarks that the machinery of the Council of Europe is large and clumsy and is in urgent need of improvement, which the new Secretary General Thorbjörn Jagland has promised. Numerous intergovernmental committees and work groups come together, but they are of no use because the participants in these meetings are middle-level officials who have neither the authority nor courage to decide anything. Jagland had decided to considerably reduce those committees. Some committees of the Assembly can be merged, and the number of initiatives which result in reports should also be critically reviewed. Bureaucracy and the vanity of deputies stress the quantity, but actually quality and originality are needed. Adapted to the system, the politicians do not themselves make politics any more, but are toys in the hands of somebody else who has decided to shape them in his or her own image. There have been cases where a rapporteur submits a document he has not even bothered to read through. History has proven that the representatives of small nations cannot afford such a position of convenience.